Nintendo press events cause lots of Wii excitement

Official Wii website With the multiple Nintendo press events that’ve been hyped up now well underway, a lot of new Wii info is hitting the fan. Most of it is simply confirmation of existing rumours and facts, but it is regardless nice to see a lot more concrete information since Nintendo have been secretive to an almost Apple-like degree thus far.

The main piece of news is of course that the Wii is to release in the US on November 19th at £132 ($250), which is likely to be more like £150-£160 here in the UK as inflation always reigns supreme. But also, two brand new sites have appeared at Wii.com: the official Japanese Wii site and the official US Wii site. The European one will probably launch tomorrow after the London press event.

The US site will be the most readable for the majority of you, and it is indeed definitely worth reading. There’s quite a lot of in-depth information to be found concerning pricing of extras, what’s included with the console, etc. One of the things that really intrigues me is Wii Channels. Basically, you get a bunch of ‘channels’ to select from with your Wii that are largely powered by the wireless internet connection.

Wii's Mii First there’s the Mii channel which lets you create faces that I presume will appear in certain games on your character, and possibly on forums and whatnot. Then there’s Photo, which lets you import photographs from an SD card, manipulate them, slideshow them, etc. Forecast will display a continually updated weather forecast. News lets you read news from all sorts of websites, which I guess will be something like an RSS feed reader — only they choose the feeds for you and you select the categories you like most.

Shop is naturally one of the most important, as it’s where you can make of “Wii Points”. Wii Points are obtained by either purchasing a card in a shop or using a credit card ($20 per 2000 Wii Points), and then they can be exchanged for classic NES, SNES, N64, Megadrive and TurboGrafx games. Tied into this is the Internet channel, which allows you to browse the internet using a fully fledged copy of Opera, JavaScript, Flash and all. The only catch is you have to buy the Opera internet browser using Wii Points via the aforementioned Shop channel (Edit: Check out the update below! Opera will be temporarily free).

Battalion Wars 2 Virtual Console is where you play your purchased classic games. Disc is where you play your Wii or GameCube games. Finally there’s Message Board, a place for you to leave messages to be read by family members, or perhaps friends in other places if they’re added to your friend list. Pretty nice — could be good for arranging multiplayer games (eg: “Get online at 7pm!”).

All in all, this is some sweet stuff. It looks like the Wii has a lot of nice extras out the box, which is kind of an evolution of the DS that had a basic chat/drawing program built in but not much else. Everyone loves quality freebies, and a lot of these look genuinely useful. I’m a little disappointed that you have to pay a little for Opera, but I guess Nintendo haven’t got much choice since they’re licensing the high-quality Opera internet browser. Better than ending up with some trashy in-house solution that can barely render half the internet I guess.

There are also videos on the site as well as many other things. I highly recommend having a good dig around! There’s much more than I’ve summarised here to discover.

Update #1:
A pair of superb facts worth pointing out have hit the web. Firstly, according to IGN the Opera browser will be free to download until June 2007 — a nice bonus for early adopters I guess. And according to the box, Wii Sports will be included with the console free of charge; that means you get (multiplayer) tennis, baseball, golf, bowling, and boxing to mess around with. Very nice.

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